Amla has a Test average of 50.7 and an ODI average of 59.6! He is in the exclusive ''Club of One''. Nobody in the history of cricket has retired with an average of 50+ in both Tests and ODIs and none of the current players fit the bill. Amla plays so slowly in Tests that it’s a wonder how he changes gears for the ODI format. He is also the only South African to have scored a Test triple century.
The closest anyone is to him is another South African. AB de Villers has a 49.1 average in Tests and 49.2 in ODIs. Add to his fearsome T20 hitting and you realize that de Villers may be the most complete batsman in the world.
Strange as it seems, South Africa are yet to beat Australia at home in a Test series after their return to international cricket after the Apartheid years. While the 1994 series was a draw, Australia won four straight series from 1997-2009. The Proteas managed another draw in 2011. They have a 5-11 win-loss record with them at home since their comeback. Their low point was the 0-3 whitewash in 2006.
Incidentally, Australia also won their first five Test series on South African soil from 1902-57.
…otherwise they are the most consistent Test team
But if you look at the overall picture, then South Africa are the most consistent Test team among all former ICC No. 1s. If you look at the last 20 Test series, then South Africa have lost only one of them! Howzat for consistency? This great streak has lasted from 2007-12. And you wonder how India and England were No. 1s during this period! South Africa is also the most consistent team overseas.
They recently beat Australia in Australia consecutively to stamp their supremacy. India lost 0-8 overseas. Australia lost to India 0-2 twice back to back in India. England got thrashed 0-3 by Pakistan. Such a thing hasn’t happened to South Africa for ages now.
Kallis is the greatest all-rounder ever and may surpass Sachin
In Tests Jacques Kallis has 12980 runs, 282 wickets and 192 catches. In ODIs he has 11498 runs, 270 wickets and 125 catches. Nobody comes close, not even Sir Gary Sobers. Among current players, Kallis has the highest Test average of 56.9. That’s simply phenomenal.
Kallis just turned 37 and if he retires soon, then Sachin Tendulkar’s records are safe.
But if he continues playing like the way he currently is till the age of 40, making runs even when injured, then he could touch 50 Test centuries like Sachin. He could also end up with more wickets than Zaheer Khan and more catches than Rahul Dravid!
They only choke in World Cups
Sometimes the tag of chokers has also been given to them in Tests and ODI series. That’s grossly unfair. They only choke in World Cups. Outside of the WCs, they are the most consistent team around. Wherever they travel in the world, no matter what format they play in, they are the greatest fighters around.
Smith may be the first to captain 100 Tests
Ricky Ponting is statistically the greatest captain, but he looked clueless at the end of his captaincy. MS Dhoni and Andrew Strauss had brilliant starts to their Test captaincy, but eventually collapsed.
That’s definitely not been the case with Captain Smith. He is the Mr Consistent of international cricket. He is about to become the first player to captain 100 Tests. What a century! (He is at 97). He could also register 50 Test wins as captain. What a half-century! (He is at 45)
And to think he became a captain at 22. He is 31 and shows no signs of ageing as a captain. That hasn’t affected his batting either and he has scored more than 8000 Test runs at an average close to 50.
SA whitewashed Aus before the Apartheid boycott
In the very last Test series in 1970 before SA were boycotted, they whitewashed Australia 4-0. They won the four Tests respectively by 170 runs, an innings and 129 runs, 307 runs and 323 runs. There are many who feel that the Proteas had a great chance of becoming world champions in the 1970s.
The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/